Ducati with its eyes on the future wants to foray into the entry-level premium segment in India. This segment currently has motorcycles like the BMW G 310 twins, the KTM 390 Duke, the TVS Apache RR310 and the Yamaha R3. But, to do that, Ducati needs a local partner; a partner who understands both low cost manufacturing and wide range distribution.
That partner, we have learnt might be Hero MotoCorp.
Well, the most straightforward answer is that it's the only Indian company left that hasn't entered into a tie-up with a premium international motorcycle maker. And, it has vehemently denied having anything to do with Harley-Davidson's small bike plans.
Getting back to the various tie-ups, Bajaj has KTM. And, more recently it has partnered with Triumph to develop and produce a single cylinder neo-classic for the latter. This very platform will also spawn the new generation of the Bajaj Avenger.
Then, of course, there's the BMW and TVS arrangement. The results of that partnership are already on the market. BMW and TVS developed the platform together, then BMW and TVS gave it their individual twists, and voila, we have the G 310 twins and the RR310.
With Hero, Ducati might have a tie-up similar to BMW and TVS in terms of developing the platform. But, the big difference between the arrangements will be distribution. While BMW and TVS have separate distribution channels, Hero and Ducati could take the Probiking approach to sell the latter's small bike. This would mean upgrading some of Hero's existing dealerships, but the costs involved would be far lower than setting up a standalone unit for Ducati, especially in tier 2 towns.
The new motorcycle
The new motorcycle in question will use a fuel injected single cylinder engine. And it will be liquid cooled. The engine most likely will be developed by Ducati, and it will be produced lock, stock and barrel in India by Hero. Also, from what we have learnt, the new engine might displace around 300cc.
Furthermore, the new small Ducati platform might spawn two motorcycles. The engine, gearbox, brakes, wiring harness, and other mechanicals will be identical for the two bikes. But, while the cheaper version might draw styling cues from the Scrambler range, the more expensive version will be a mini-Multistrada. Much like the G 310 R and the G 310 GS if you like.
The new Hero
But, chances are Hero MotoCorp, given its focus on R&D lately, wouldn't want to be sidelined as just a contract manufacturer and distributor. And, we all know, the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer has serious global aspirations.
Those aspirations would get a solid boost with a Hero motorcycle based on the same new small Ducati platform. The Hero would run the same mechanicals and electricals as the Ducati, which will bring down costs and up the reliability for both bike makers' products. Then, with Hero's R&D in full swing, we should see a distinctly different looking design, and possibly some ride related tweaks too. The Hero, after all, will also be sold in tier 3 towns, and it would need to be more robust and fuel efficient too.
More on this as the story develops.